In Tough Question Requires Equally Tough Answers franchising expert witness Steven Belmonte, President and C.E.O., Hospitality Solutions LLC, asks the questions: “Are product upgrades and renovations really needed during hard economic times?”
I believe most of the major franchise companies have, to a degree (and some more than others), backed off from mandating expensive upgrades until the economy is on a strong upswing. Franchisors are realizing that in today’s economic environment, such a mandate is onerous simply because their franchisees simply can’t afford, or perhaps don’t need, certain upgrades. I applaud this mandate-backoff by the franchise giants-it makes good business sense. However, this backoff policy should be rescinded once it is obvious that the recovery is a sure thing.
It’s hard to crystal-ball such a thing, but now that things may be looking better on Wall Street-if not on Main Street-perhaps it is time to at least begin thinking about upgrades and renovations. The earlier they can be done, the sooner owners and operators will be able to reap the benefit of higher levels of customer satisfaction, repeat business and renewed customer loyalty.
Here’s a final word of advice: Regardless of what category your hotel falls into-whether you need an immediate upgrade or not, whether you need to reposition or don’t need to-the very last items you should scrimp on are employee training and customer-service focus. Those efforts should remain firm and steady regardless of the economic climate. Invest in your employees. Treat them like business partners. Create a culture within your company, your group or your hotel that emphasizes training so that your employees-your business partners-are confident in their abilities and empowered to respond to any issue a guest might have. Do this and it will pay off big for you, your guests, your staff and your bottom line-no matter how up or down the economy happens to be.